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Reef Guardian Council News is the Authority’s e-newsletter for Reef Guardian Councils and their key partners.

The e-newsletter showcases some of the many and varied activities Reef Guardian Councils are undertaking to help address key threats to the Reef.

If you work for a local government, or local government partner organisation, and would like to subscribe please email

January 2023

Council takes out regional waste industry awards

Rockhampton Regional Council was acknowledged for their dedication to waste management at the recent Local Authority Waste Management Action Committee meeting held in Mission Beach. 

Deputy Mayor and Assistant Portfolio Councilor for Waste and Recycling - Neil Fisher was honoured with the 2022 Ross Overton (Rossko) Memorial for Excellence in Waste Management. This award showcases the achievements, success, and innovation in fields of waste management, recycling and environmental awareness. 

Council Officer Sandi Brown was also recognised for her passion and dedication behind the scenes in the waste management space in regional Queensland as the recipient of the inaugural Mary Field Award. 

Marine debris is a major threat to the health of the Great Barrier Reef. It can have lethal effects on marine life like turtles, dugongs, dolphins and seabirds. Collective action by community, industry and government to choose sustainable options, minimise waste and undertake stewardship activities is required to reduce the impacts of marine debris on the Reef. The Reef Authority applauds the waste management work that Reef Guardian councils are undertaking to support a circular economy and move towards zero waste in Reef catchment communities. 

You can find out more about this and other initiatives by the Rockhampton Regional Council, on their website.

Council recipients displaying their waste industry awards. (c) Rockhampton Regional Council

Are you turtley aware?

Turtley Aware is an exciting new initiative out of Bundaberg Regional Council, adding to their already successful ongoing turtle awareness campaign. 

The new program combines with a resource hub to provide anyone, anywhere, vital information on how to reduce their impact on the Bundaberg Region's shoreline. The Shoreline is a significant nesting location for the endangered loggerhead sea turtle. Whether you are a resident, business or just visiting, this hub provides resources and activities to help you do your part. It caters for everyone. 

Local community groups and organisations, including 18 Reef Guardian Schools are joining the campaign, sharing the turtle awareness message. Keep an eye out when you're next in the region. 

Loggerhead nesting at Mon Repos (c) Commonwealth of Australia (Reef Authority)

Virtual Reef Adventure sessions during the April school holidays

Reef Guardian Councils are offering free Virtual Reef Adventure sessions in the upcoming April school holidays. 

  • Sessions included:
  • Coral the Reef builders - Did you know that corals are the building blocks of the Great Barrier Reef? Join us as we investigate how coral grows, coral colours and how coral shapes provide habitats for different sea creatures to live in. To finish we will explore the simple actions you can take to help protect the Great Barrier Reef.
  • All about sea turtles - What is the life cycle of a sea turtle? Where do they go to breed and feed, and what are the dangers they are facing? Join us to find out more about these amazing creatures and the actions that are being taken to protect them.
  • Reef creatures up close - How many reef creatures does it take to build a reef...the answer is thousands! Join us as we explore the jobs of different animals living on the Reef. Creatures like sea cucumbers, sea urchins, sea stars, fish and sharks. Become a Reef superhero and learn how to keep these Reef communities healthy. 

Contact your local Reef Guardian Council to find out more about local session times and locations.

Federal Budget for Reef Guardian Councils

The Australian Government have announced $17.48 million over four years to the 19 councils within the Reef Guardian program. This comes as part of the recent Federal Budget and is a testimony to the great work that is continuing to be delivered through this program. The Reef Authority would like to acknowledge these councils for their efforts. 

September 2022

Think global and act local

The Reef Authority has released a new report showcasing the initiatives and actions the 19 local councils within the Reef Guardian Councils program are taking to reduce climate change impacts on the Great Barrier Reef.

The Reef Guardian Councils' climate change initiatives snapshot highlights the actions, both big and small, that councils are taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build Reef resilience.

  • The actions include: 
  • purchasing clean energy
  • flaring and using landfill gas for energy and
  • introducing or growing electric or hybrid fleet vehicles among many others. 

Not only do local councils’ climate change initiatives support environmental benefits to their communities, but also social and financial benefits, meaning the triple bottom line of people, profit and planet is front of mind. 

Installing solar at council facilities reduces long-term energy costs, increasing bike paths and walkways encourages physical activity to support community health and offers residents alternative transport options, and diverting organic waste from landfill presents an opportunity for councils to turn the waste into cost-saving compost and soil conditioner.

Climate change is the greatest threat not just to our Great Barrier Reef but to coral reefs worldwide. 

Climate change is a global issue, requiring a global response and local and regional approaches are central to protecting and managing the Reef.

Reef Guardian Councils climate change initiatives snapshot

Rubber Crumb Playground Pollution

A shocking one billion waste tyres are generated worldwide each year. Working out what to do with them is one of the biggest waste challenges we face today. Shredding tyres into ‘rubber crumb’ to build playground surfaces and infill artificial turf is not the solution it seems.

A new study across the Great Barrier Reef shows rubber crumb playgrounds release an estimated 1.2 million crumbs on average into the immediate environment, while other research suggests tyre chemicals may have toxic health effects on both marine and human life.

Experts warn immediate steps are needed to ensure tyre recycling programs don’t solve a problem, while quietly causing another. 

Reef Guardian Councils program lunchtime learning session provided a forum for councils to hear from Tangaroa Blue Foundation about this emerging issue.

The Cassowary Coast Regional Council have been proactive by implementing phase 1 of their Rubber Crumb Source Reduction Plan by removing 100sq metres of rubber crumb from local playgrounds, with a further 250 square metres to be removed over time.

The council has also committed to no new installation of rubber crumb throughout their local government area.

© Heidi Tait - Rubber Crumb Playground Pollution

New Council First Nations Fire Officer 

Gladstone Regional Council is proud to introduce its First Nations Fire Officer role to establish a cultural approach to land and fire management on Council land.

Australians First Nations community have been custodians of country for tens of thousands of years and Council recognises the importance of cultural land management and burning as the most appropriate way to mitigate the effects of bushfires and establish healthy management of country.

Respecting these cultural connections, the First Nations Fire Officer works closely with the region's Traditional Owners. 

Studies have found that when fires are too frequent and intense they release carbon into the atmosphere that would otherwise be stored in decomposing organic matter and released into the soil.

Traditional burning practices promoting cooler burns can increase the retention of soil carbon through the formation of charcoal which slows decomposition processes. 

The Reef Guardian Councils program welcomes innovative actions to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.

The First Nations Fire Officer role has been made possible through funding from the Australian Government Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants Program.

From Flush to Farms 

Douglas Shire Council has entered into a three-year contract for the removal and re-use of bio-solids.

This project will help Douglas Shire Council re-use organic sludge to fertilize farms across Far North Queensland so that the wastewater can be safely re-used.

Douglas Shire Council employs a range of wastewater treatment processes to remove solid waste from the wastewater. The bio-solids are re-used at several farms across the region including Cairns, Mareeba, Warrami and Innot Hot Spring.

In the 2021-22 financial year, 1753 wet tonnes of dewatered sludge were taken by contractors to be used as organic fertilizer and soil conditioner across farms.

The Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils invited suitably qualified contractors to tender for the removal and beneficial reuse of biosolids on behalf of participating Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils member Councils.

The formation of one collective tender process with individual contracts managed centrally by Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils helped to lessen the administrative burden on Councils and facilitate coordinated best-practice across the region.

© Douglas Shire Council - From Flush to Farm

April 2022

Yeppoon Sewerage Treatment Plant powered by the sun


Livingstone Shire Council Solar Powered Sewerage Treatment Plant


Solar panels and battery storage have been installed at Livingstone Shire Council’s sewage treatment plant (STP) in an effort to reduce running costs and emissions. The Yeppoon STP is one of Council’s major power consuming utilities and through this project will make a power saving of approximately 69%.

The 550kW project will see the plant being powered by solar during the day and surplus energy directed to battery storage for use during the night. The system has been designed to allow expansion in a modular fashion as demand increases.

With a total cost of almost $3 million, the project is jointly funded by the Queensland Government contributing $2.8 million under the Building our Regions program, along with Livingstone Shire Council, contributing $189,000.

We celebrate projects like these that reduce carbon emissions and show Reef Guardian Council’s commitment to taking action to limit the impacts from climate change on the Reef.



Douglas community get snap-happy in the name of science


Douglas Shire Council Coastal Erosion

Douglas Shire Council are encouraging community and visitors to get involved in monitoring coastal erosion and recovery cycles through the installation of CoastSnap cradles at five popular beaches.

This citizen science project turns a smartphone into a powerful device to measure how coastlines change over time. CoastSnap relies on repeat photos at the same location and uses a specialised technique known as photogrammetry to help coastal scientists to understand and forecast how coastlines might change in the coming decades.

Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr encouraged everyone to get involved to build a strong database of images.

“The more photos we collect at a particular site, the more reliable our understanding of how that coastline is changing over time.”

“Monitoring these changes is important so that the impacts of coastal hazards can be avoided, mitigated or managed through adaptation planning.”

Mobile phone cradles are now available in the Douglas Shire at Four Mile, Cooya Beach, Newell Beach, Wonga Beach and Cow Bay.



Electric vehicle joins the Gladstone Regional Council fleet

Electric Vehicle Joins Gladstone Regional Council Fleet

Gladstone Regional Council have added a fully electric vehicle to their fleet which will provide council with valuable data on the capability of electric vehicles to meet Council’s future operational needs.

The 2021 Kia Niro will be based at the Gladstone City library where it will be charged from solar panels located on the library roof making it fueled by 100% renewables. Library staff will use the vehicle to make trips between all six of Council’s libraries.

Transitioning to electric vehicles is supported through Queenland Governments new Zero Emission Vehicle Strategy 2022-2032 which sets the following targets:

  • 50% of new passenger vehicle sales to be zero emission by 2030, moving to 100% by 2036
  • 100% of eligible Queensland Government fleet passenger vehicles to be zero emission by 2026

A key initiative is public charging infrastructure where options are being explored for locations across Queensland. A $10 million co-fund will support public charging options, in partnership with local government and private industry.

There are many Reef Guardian Councils now with fully electric or hybrid vehicles and we congratulate them on this transition.



New Guidelines for dog off-leash areas help Councils with planning

Dog off Leash area


The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s field management partner the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service has recently published new guidelines to assist councils with planning, establishment and management of foreshore dog off-leash areas within and adjacent to state marine parks.

The Local government dog off-leash areas in State Marine Parks document summarises the regulations relevant to dog access and environmental management by the Department Environment and Science through Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and subsequent key environmental considerations. A convenient checklist is included cataloguing requirements and expectations from the Department Environment and Science.

There is strong evidence about the negative effects of dogs on shorebirds. Striking a balance between recreational demand and protection of wildlife is a significant challenge for conservation managers. Councils are encouraged to use these guidelines from the early planning stages for dog off-leash areas through to the review of their effectiveness.

These guidelines were prepared based on valued input and feedback from a range of internal and external stakeholders. Practical implementation was piloted with the Brisbane City Council in the Moreton Bay Marine Park where relevant First Nations peoples and stakeholders were engaged to discuss site-specific matters.

The guidelines are available on the Department Environment and Science website’s policies and procedures page under Marine Park management. Councils can access the document using this direct link.



February 2022


Organic waste collection helps the Reef

FOGO Rockhampton City Council

Rockhampton Regional Council and Townsville City Council are trialing kerbside collection of Food Organics, Garden Organics through support from the Queensland Government.

When organic waste is sent to landfill rather than recycled it creates greenhouse emissions. In Australia, around 13 million tonnes of CO2-e (carbon dioxide equivalent) is created as a result of organic waste going to landfill. This equates to approximately 3% of Australia’s total emissions.

The Food Organics, Garden Organics trial diverts organic waste from landfill and turns it into valuable compost and soil conditioner. Rockhampton Regional Council have already collected 64 tonnes of food and garden waste and Townsville City Council have collected 72 tonnes from a combined total of 2250 households.

Benefits for councils and communities include:

  • Reduce carbon emissions
  • Return valuable organic material to the soil
  • Extend the life of landfill facilities
  • Mitigate the impact of Queensland Governments waste levy on ratepayers

Check out the Food Organics, Garden Organics progress reports for Townsville and Rockhampton.

This trial is another example of the important actions that Reef Guardian Councils are taking to tackle climate change – the greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef.



Turtles nest here

Turtle Nesting Sights Coastal Areas Queensland

It’s that special time of the year when turtle hatchlings are emerging from nests. Gladstone Regional Council and Hinchinbrook Shire Council have recently encouraged their coastal communities to do their bit to help protect turtle nests.

Gladstone Regional Council have reminded residents that there are several steps everyone can take to ensure they don’t have an impact on turtles, all while still enjoying the wonder of turtle season. These include:

  • observing nesting turtles from a distance
  • driving on the hard sand below the high-tide mark to avoid interfering with turtle nests
  • remember that some beaches are dog-free zones between November to March
  • to report a sick, injured or dead turtle, phone the Queensland Government Wildlife Hotline on 1300 130 272.

Hinchinbrook Shire Council together with community members, recently identified several nesting locations and erected signage and barricading at Forrest Beach and Cassady Beach, to protect these sites from impacts of vehicles and unnecessary disturbances.

They are urging their community to drive responsibly or face a fine of up to $6892.50. Council will be re-assessing the impacts of vehicle access to its beaches as part of a review of its Coastal Management Plans.

All six of the marine turtles found in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area are listed as either endangered or vulnerable. A big shout out to all Reef Guardian Councils for continuing to educate and inform coastal communities about what they can do to reduce pressures on these protected species.



Created Thu, 2022-11-17 11:00
Updated 17 Jan 2023
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